What is the difference between a Brahmavadi and Mayavadi?

What is the difference between a Brahmavaadi and a Mayavadi? Is one better than the other? Should we interact with one but leave the other alone? How to know which is which?

Brajanath Das, 26 December 2015

Hare Krishna!

Please accept my humble obeisances!

All glories to Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

While reading three stages of realization I got following  doubts – 

What is the difference between a Brahmavadi and a Mayavadi? What is their destination?

Different stages of Yogis realizations (in Paramatma realization)?

Please help me to understand.

your servant,

Brajanath Das

Amala-Purana Das, 28 December 2015

Hare Krsna Prabhuji,

Please accept my humble obeisances!

All Glories to Srila Gurudeva and Srimati Gurumata!

All Glories to Srila Prabhupada!!

Brahmavadis are those who are attracted to the impersonal Brahman but they are not offensive to the Lord’s personal form or consider the Lord’s form as material; it’s just they are either ignorant of the personal conception or they are indifferent towards personal conception i.e. not attracted towards they personal form of the Supreme Lord.

Mayavadis on the other hand are so deeply rooted in their impersonal conception that they blaspheme the transcendental form of Supreme Lord, consider it material and temporary and as a tool to go “something beyond” hence they are condemned.

Srimad Bhagavatam gives us two examples, four kumaras and Srila Sukadeva Goswami who were Brahmavadis and later became devotees.

Four Kumaras already knew about Lord Visnu. They heard about Visnu from Brahmaji and so they wanted to explore and they came to Vaikuntha. Thus, they knew about Lord Visnu, had no offensive attitude towards Visnu; it was just that they were not attracted towards Visnu. But when the fragrance of Tulsi offered on Lord’s lotus feet entered their nostrils, it agitated their impersonal conception and they became devotees.

Similarly, when Srila Sukadeva Goswami heard about Krishna from one of the disciples of Srila Vyasadeva, he became attracted and came to Vyasadeva and learned further from him.

People today in pursue of their spiritual goals can become attracted to Impersonal Brahman. This could be because of culture or natural course of spiritual evolution: one can move from form to formless i.e. from matter to spirit. In this way many people can acquire impersonal conception of the ultimate realty. Now that impersonal conception can:

– translate to offensive mentality towards personal conception

– translate to ignorance of the personal conception

– be indifferent towards personal conception (i.e. not attracted). For example, Four Kumaras

Out of above three first category is Mayavadis and other two are Brahmavadis. Brahmavadis can be elevated to the personal conception and become devotees when they associate with the devotees. So we should also not put every “Impersonal Brahaman seeker” in the category of Mayavadis. We should try to understand their conception of ultimate reality and if they are Mayavadis then we should stay away from them else we should try to inform them about the personal conception of the Absolute truth and bring them in contact with devotees.

Hope it helps

your servant,

Amala-Purana Das

Bhakta Sunil, 29 December 2015

Hare Krishna

Please accept my humble obeisances

All Glories to Vaishnavas

In reply to your question regarding difference between Brahmavadi and Mayavadi, the following conversation should help


Conversations and Morning Walks

1975 Conversations and Morning Walks

Brahmavādī means those who are aspiring to merge into the impersonal Brahman effulgence. Māyāvādīs remain fools forever. They have no knowledge. Aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ, always impure.

Morning Walk — July 2, 1975, Denver:

Harikeśa: Śrīla Prabhupāda, what’s the difference between a Brahmavādī and a Māyāvādī?

Prabhupāda: That you already questioned. We answered.

Harikeśa: I did?

Prabhupāda: Yes. (break) …vādī means those who are aspiring to merge into the impersonal Brahman effulgence.

Harikeśa: And Māyāvādīs, they do not attain that impersonal realization?

Prabhupāda: Māyāvādīs remain fools forever.

Harikeśa: They never leave this material platform.

Prabhupāda: They do not know. They have no knowledge. Aviśuddha-buddhayaḥ (SB 10.2.32), always impure. Otherwise how they are thinking, so ‘ham: “I am same. I am God. I am moving the sun, I am…” Such rascals, they remain always in ignorance. (break) …no sense that “If I am the same, then why I have fallen down in this māyā?” They say, “It is my līlā. I have become dog. So it is my līlā. I have become hog. It is my līlā.” (laughs) This is their philosophy. Hare Kṛṣṇa. (break) Māyāvāda. They are fools, mūḍha. Māyayāpahṛta-jñānā. They are described in the Bhagavad-gītā. Māyāvādī means māyayāpahṛta-jñānā: “Their knowledge has been taken away by māyā.” Fools. Either you call them fool or call them lowest of the mankind or the most sinful, whatever way you can call, they are like that. All good qualifications. Therefore Caitanya Mahāprabhu has warned, māyāvādī-bhāṣya śunile haya sarva-nāśa: (CC Madhya 6.169) “If you hear from Māyāvādī, then your spiritual life is finished.” It’s so dangerous.

Harikeśa: The Brahmavādīs have some possibility of advancement?

Prabhupāda: Oh, yes.

Harikeśa: What is that thing that enables them to advance?

Prabhupāda: That you will know later on. First of all try to understand this. Don’t try to understand everything in a moment. That is foolishness.


Regarding second question, the following lectures should help :


Lecture on BG 4.24-34 — New York, August 12, 1966: 

So anyway, either the Brahmavādī or Paramātmavādī or the bhakta, they are all tattva-vit. They are all transcendentalists. There is no difference. But as there are three classes in every sphere, so there are three classes in the transcendental field also. So here Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord recommends that jñāninas tattva-darśinaḥ (BG 4.34). You have to find out a person who is tattva-darśī, who has realized the Absolute Truth, either in Brahman conception or in Paramātmā conception or in Personality of Godhead conception because we have got different tastes. So the Paramātmā or the Supreme Absolute Truth is also manifested in three phases: Brahman, Paramātmā, Bhagavān. So anyway, either you select the impersonal Brahman conception of the Absolute Truth, either you select the localized supreme soul, Supersoul conception of the Absolute Truth, or you accept the highest, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Mattaḥ parataraṁ nānyat kiñcid asti dhanañjaya (BG 7.7). The Lord says that “This is the last phase of Absolute Truth, what I am, Kṛṣṇa.”

Lecture on BG 4.34 — New York, August 14, 1966: 

And even in that knowledge field also… Of course, transcendental knowledge, as we have discussed already, they are viewed in different, three different angles of vision: the knowledge of Brahmavāda, or impersonal, impersonal Absolute Truth, and the knowledge of Paramātmā, the localized Supersoul, and the knowledge of Bhagavān, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead. There are different stages of development of knowledge. But the first beginning knowledge is that we must understand that “I am not this body. I am spirit soul, and my aim of life should be how to get out of this material entanglement.” That is knowledge. That is the beginning of knowledge.



Bhakta Sunil

Dra Varni, 04 January 2016

thank you  Hare Krsna!!

Dra Varni

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The wife of the saint didn’t believe him

Great saints invite us to go back home with them. Even today. Will we heed that call?

The saint said to his wife “I’m going home today, are you coming with me?”. She had long written him off as eccentric.

When the great 17th Century saint Tukaram left home that day, and went to a designated spot and started a giant Harinam Sankirtan – congregational chanting of the names of God, many joined him enthusiastically, but hardly anyone knew what was about to happen. Hundreds watched as the scene unfolded.

A giant spacecraft, driven by Garuda, a celestial eagle, landed next to Tukaram. Tukaram, continuing his ecstatic singing, proceeded to mount the vehicle, and the vehicle took off. Tukaram went home, back to Godhead, Vaikuntha, as people watched, open-mouthed.

His wife heard the news and came running, but it was too late, as her pure saintly husband had already long left.

Similarly the great saint A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada in the 20th Century exhorted millions to go back home with him, but very few heeded his call.

In the modern times, there are many saints who are inviting us to go back home with them.

Here is one such saint, Sriman Sankarshan Das Adhikari, ready to take us all back with him. Will you be like Tukaram’s wife or will you heed this call?


Why does Krishna let trouble happen?

Pranathi, Dec 21 2011

Hare Krishna!

 Dandavat pranams to all the devotees

 All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

 I got an email from one of my friends, who is new to ISKCON and she asked me a question. I was wondering if anyone could please help me write a reply to her.

 “I have got a very crazy doubt. When some trouble happens we blame it on our fate. And when we come out of it safely we praise the Lord. But why does Krsna let trouble happen?”

Hare Krishna!




Jagannatha dasa, Dec 22 2011

 Hare Krishna Pranathi,

 Thank you for this question.

 Your friend has correctly noted that this material world is suffering.  Srila Sanatana Gosvami asked Lord Caitanya, “Why am I suffering. Who am I?”  These questions are glorious; your friend is to be commended for asking these questions, because inquiry into the absolute truth is the purpose of human life.

The spiritual world is Vaikuntha.  Kuntha means anxiety, and Vaikuntha means without anxiety.  In contrast, this material world is described in Bhagavad-gita as duhkhalayam, miserable, and asasvatam, temporary.

So the question is why?  We were in the spiritual world where everyone is happy to serve the amorous pastimes of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna.  But we got envious that Krishna is the centre of everyone’s heart, and wanted everyone to focus their consciousness on us instead.

This material world is a product of Krishna’s illusory energy which lets us experience the illusion that my life is the most important thing.  We came here to forget Krishna, now Krishna has given us the facility to forget (BG 15.15):

sarvasya caham hrdi sannivisto

mattah smrtir jnanam apohanam ca

vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyo

vedanta-krd veda-vid eva caham

“I am seated in everyone’s heart, and from Me come remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness. By all the Vedas, I am to be known. Indeed, I am the compiler of Vedanta, and I am the knower of the Vedas.”

In short, the answer is that if we want to remember Krishna, He lets us be happy in our natural position of devotional service to His lotus feet, by the divine grace of our spiritual master.   If we want to forget God, then welcome to the material world, a world of hurt.  Therefore the conclusion is that once we learn the science of Krishna consciousness, we will never come back to this world of hurt (BG 8.15):

mam upetya punar janma

duhkhalayam asasvatam

napnuvanti mahatmanah

samsiddhim paramam gatah

“After attaining Me, the great souls, who are yogis in devotion, never return to this temporary world, which is full of miseries, because they have attained the highest perfection.”

Does this make some sense?

Your servant,

-Jagannatha dasa


Mahabhagavat Das SDA, Dec 22 2011

Hare Krishna Pranathi Mataji,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Srila Gurudeva.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Your question is very nice.

Jagannatha Prabhu’s answer is a masterpiece as usual.

When you meet her in person, I would like to suggest one more approach to this question, which worked in my experience to provoke some thought on gratitude to Krishna, and get a discussion going.

Answer with a question:

Ask “Why is that very often, when some trouble happens, we blame it on Krishna, when we come out of it safely we praise our own prowess and expertise at solving problems, and we never see that Krishna helped us get out of it, and we never see that it may have been much worse than it was without His intervention?”


Mahabhagavat Das

Hospital in Goloka Vrndavana

Yogesh Purohit, Sep 13 2011

Hare Krishna Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

When a person gets sick in material world due to material contamination, he is sent to a hospital to get back to his (physical) health.  Similarly, is there any provision to send a person to Spiritual hospital, whenever a person misuses his free-will in spiritual world, before he is sent back to material world, to enjoy independent of God?  Or, is that Hospital this material world itself?

Please correct my understanding.

Thank you very much.

Your aspiring servant,


Jagannatha dasa, Sep 13 2011

Hare Krishna Yogesh,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Srila Gurudeva!

All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

In a Town Hall Lecture, from 1972, in Auckland, New Zealand, Srila Prabhupada said:

There are hundreds and thousands of hospital, but where is the hospital for treating the spirit soul? They have no knowledge. They have no knowledge even, what to speak of hospital. This is the hospital. This Krishna consciousness temple is the hospital for the diseased spirit soul. And everyone is diseased. Come to this hospital. We shall take care of you and cure your material disease.

Your servant,

-Jagannatha dasa

Yogesh Purohit          , Sep 14 2011

Hare Krishna Jagannatha Prabhuji,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

Thank you for your response.

However, my question was little different.  I was asking isn’t there any hospital in Spiritual world (like we have in Material world), where the diseased spiritual being could be sent before it is sent down to material world to enjoy (miserably)?  I have read that every living being originally was in Goloka Vrndavana, but due to misuse of free will, we are sent back in Material world to enjoy independently of God.  My question is that, when that desire originated in Goloka Vrndavana, wasn’t there a provision to sent that soul in the Spiritual Hospital in Goloka Vrndavana itself and get cured there, instead of sending the soul to material world and awarding the material body and associated miseries?

Thank you very much.

Your aspiring servant,


Ashutosh Pandey, Sep 14 2011

Hare Krsna

All glories to Srila Prabhupada:

Actually this material world is the hospital of the spiritual world…Outside this hospital no one is sick (that is in spiritual zone).only those who are become diseased in the spiritual world are sent to this hospital….one more thing if you are assuming a spiritual hospital then you are on the wrong pathway as in spiritual axis no one is disease because the fundamental axiom of spiritual axis is that there is No BIRTH, DISEASE, OLD AGE and DEATH…..so no hospital only bliss and simply happy eternally.

Hope this helps you



Yogesh Purohit          , Sep 14 2011

Hare Krishna Ashutosh Prabhu,

Please accept my humble obeisances.

All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

So we are trying to enjoy in the hospital 🙂

Thank you for your kind reply.  This definitely helps.

Your servant


Ashutosh Pandey, Sep 14 2011

Hare Krsna

All glories to Srila Prabhupada

Ha ha ha……Yes now you got the point….. See how foolish it is to even think to enjoy in a hospital where one is diseased and staying with diseased…… but what to say about thinking we all have taken it as a fact…and hence suffer miserably…


Mahabhagavat Das SDA, Sep 14 2011

Hare Krishna Prabhus,

The spiritual world is known as “Vaikuntha”, this is a combination of the words vai + kuntha.

“Vai” means without

“Kuntha” means miseries

Here is a reference by Srila Prabhupada in a lecture…

“So this whole material creation is like that. The creator of this universe, Krsna, He says, duhkhalayam asasvatam: [Bg. 8.15] “This is the place for suffering.” And you are seeking after happiness. Just like in the prison house: it is the place for suffering, and if you want to be comfortable, this is called maya. Maya-sukhaya bharam udvahato vimudhan [SB 7.9.43]. The whole world is running after happiness what is not possible. Therefore they have been described as vimudhan, rascal. We sometimes use this word very frequently, “rascals,” and they become angry. But actually that is the description, “rascals.” All these so-called civilized men, so-called civilized men, they are not men even. They’re all animals. But in the sastra, they have been described as dvi-pada-pasu. They are animals, but they have got two legs. That’s all. That is the difference. Animals, generally, they have four legs, catus-pada, but these animals are two-legged. That is the difference. They’re animals because… The same example: In the desert there is no water, and the animal is running after it. Why he’s called animal? Because he does not understand that “In the desert, how there can be water?””

And he describes how the material world is just 1/4th of the total creation – just as hospitals occupy only a small part of our cities:

“So there is another world. That information is given here. Mayatite vyapi. Vyapi means very extensive. This whole material world is one-fourth of Krsna’s expansion, one-fourth. And that Vaikunthaloka is three-fourths. So therefore it is called vyapi. Vyapi means very extensive. We cannot calculate even this material existence. It is only one-fourth. Now, how it will be possible for us to calculate the vyapi vaikuntha-loka? Vyapi-vaikuntha-loka. Vaikuntha means… Vi means without, and kuntha means anxiety. So Vaikunthaloka means there is no anxiety. There is no anxiety. Here we are full of anxieties in this material… Even big, big businessman, who has got enough money, you’ll find he is in anxiety. He’s always thinking, “How this business will go on? How this, maintain so many men?” So I have seen it that our printer, Dai Nippon, the president, when we, for the temporary, we stopped our business, he was full of anxiety. Yes. Now they have agreed to reduce ten percent more than any printer. Why? He was full of anxiety. (Laughter) This is the fact. So don’t think that very big, big businessman or one who has got enough money, he has no anxiety. Anxiety there should be. This is the place of anxiety, kuntha. Prahlada Maharaja pointed it out that tat sadhu manye ‘sura-varya dehinam sada samudvigna-dhiyam asad-grahat [SB 7.5.5]. Here, in this material world, whoever is there… The Brahma is also anxiety, in full of anxiety. Indra… You know. Prthu Maharaja was sacrificing hundred times, and Indra became very much anxious that “If Prthu becomes so great, then he may occupy my seat.” So he wanted to put hindrances so that he may not fulfil the so many yajnas.”

And most importantly, Srila Prabhupada has also given the cure:

“So our Krsna consciousness movement is for that purpose. Increase Krsna consciousness and there will be no more kuntha, no more anxiety. People are trying to be anxiety-less, and that is only possible by this movement. Put always in touch with Krsna. And the method is very simple – Hare Krsna. That’s all. If you keep yourself in touch with Hare Krsna… We have already been known as Hare Krishna people all over the world, Hare Krishna people. So increase this population, Hare Krishna people, and it will be Vaikuntha.”

This is also the purpose of this group.

Your servant,

Mahabhagavat Das

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